What is Carnaval or Mardi Gras?
Carnaval or Mardi Gras is a festive season typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party. People often dress up or masquerade during the celebrations, which mark an overturning of daily life.

The festival culminates in Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday. The date is dependent on that of Easter, and thus can vary from as early as 3 February to as late as 9 March.

Carnaval is a popular festival in Brazil and many other Catholic countries. While in recent years Carnaval has grown in popularity as a raucous, hedonistic event, its roots lie in the Christian calendar, as the “last hurrah” before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

Origins of The Name
Origins of the word Carnaval or Carnival is disputed, but many believes it comes from the Italian words “carne levare”, literally means “to remove meat”, since meat is prohibited during Lent.

Mardi Gras literally means “Fat Tuesday” in French. The name comes from the tradition of slaughtering and feasting upon a fattened calf on the last day of Carnival.

Rio Carnaval 2013

When is Carnaval 2014 / Mardi Gras 2014?

Date of Carnaval 2014 / Mardi Gras 2014
The culmination of Carnaval 2014 / Mardi Gras 2014 / Carnival 2014 is on Fat Tuesday, 4 March 2014. Carnaval celebrations are usually started from days or even weeks before, with celebrations in Trinidad and Tobago start from as early as December.

Date of Carnaval 2013 / Mardi Gras 2013
The culmination of Carnaval 2013 / Mardi Gras 2013 / Carnival 2013 is on Fat Tuesday, 12 February 2013.

Date of Carnaval 2012 / Mardi Gras 2012
The culmination of Carnaval 2012 / Mardi Gras 2012 / Carnival 2012 is on Fat Tuesday, 21 February 2012 .

Carnivals Around The World

Best & Most Popular Carnivals / Carnaval in The World
Some of the most popular Carnaval in the world are Mardi Gras of New Orleans, the Carnival of Venice, Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival, Caribana in Canada and The Carnival in the Caribbean in Trinidad & Tobago. The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is a world famous festival held before Christian Lent season every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1723.

Carnaval de Uruguay 2014
The Carnival in Uruguay is the longest carnival in the world, with more than 40 days of celebration, with celebrations in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, being the largest and brightest.

During the forty days of festival, popular theaters called tablados are built in throughout the cities, especially in Montevideo. Traditionally formed by men but now are also open to women, the different Carnival groups called mainly Murgas, Lubolos or Parodistas perform a kind of popular opera at the tablados, singing and dancing songs that generally relate to social reality and political situation in the country.

Carnival in Uruguay is performed in the European parade style with elements from Bantu and Angolan Benguela cultures imported with slaves in colonial times. The main attractions of Uruguayan Carnival include two colorful parades called Desfile de Carnaval (Carnival Parade) and Desfile de Llamadas (Calls Parade – re-enactment of what happened during the colonial period).

Mardi Gras 2014 in New Orleans, USA
New Orleans is Mardi Gras capital of the United States. In New Orleans, Mardi Gras is music, parades, picnics, floats, excitement and one big holiday. Everyone is wearing purple, green, and gold; and adorned with long beads caught from the beautiful floats. They sit on the ground throwing balls, playing music, having a picnic, and watching the crowds walk by between parades.
New Orleans Mardi Gras
All of the businesses and roads are practically shut down. People dressed in colorful & fancy costumes are walking everywhere and meeting new friends. Kids are everywhere, and they love it!

New Orleans Mardi Gras 2013 will start from late January till Tuesday, 12 February 2013. Check out New Orleans Mardi Gras 2013 parade schedule.

2014 Carnaval in Brazil
Carnival is the biggest and most famous event in Brazil. The whole country stops completely for almost a week. Festivities and celebrations are intense, day and night, in the whole country. It is reported that the consumption of beer during carnival accounts for 80% of Brazil’s annual consumption and Brazil tourism receives 70% of annual visitors during and around the carnival.

Rhythm, participation, and costumes vary from one region of Brazil to another. In the southeastern cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, huge organized parades are led by samba schools. Those official parades are watched by the public, while minor parades (“blocos”) allowing public participation can be found in other cities.

The northeastern cities of Salvador, Porto Seguro and Recife have organized groups parading through streets, and public interacts directly with them. Also in northeast, Olinda carnival features unique characteristics, part influenced by Venice Carnival mixed with cultural depictions of local folklore.

The Carnival in Rio is the biggest Carnival in Brazil and is a very interesting one. It is also the most expensive time to visit Rio. Hotel rooms and other lodgings are much more expensive during the carnival period. There are big crowds at some locations and life is far from ordinary in many parts of town.

Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro Carnival 2014 dates: Friday, 28 February 2014 until Tuesday, 4 March 2014.
The tickets for Rio Carnival 2014 is available.

Carnaval in Bolivia
Celebrated in Oruro, the folklore capital of Bolivia, the Bolivian Carnaval de Oruro is celebrated in honor of the patron saint of the miners, Virgen de Socavon (the Virgin of the Tunnels). During the carnaval, over 50 parade groups dance, sing and play music over a five kilometre-long course.

Bolivia Carnival

La Diablada or Danza de los Diablos (English: Dance of the Devils), a dance characterized by the mask and devil suit wore by the dancers, is the typical main attraction of the Bolivian Carnival. Participants dress up as demons, devils, angels, Incas and Spanish conquerors.

Carnival in Italy
Of of the most famous carnival in Italy and Europe is held in Venice. The main characteristics of Venice’s Venetian Carnival is the emphasis on distinctive masks, with one of the most important events is the contest for the best mask.

Venice Carnival of Mask

Venice Carnival starts around two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday or Marted? Grasso), the day before Ash Wednesday.

Mardi Gras in France
In France, the most popular Carnival is the Mardi Gras Parade of Place Massena in Nice. The event attracts over a million visitors to Nice every year. The Carnival spans a two week period with the final day on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), each year carrying a different theme, displayed in papier mache figures.

Mardi Gras in Nice, France

Often dressed in masks and big headed caricature costumes, the people of Nice take the time of the Mardi Gras to enjoy themselves, lighten up and taking part in the feasts, drinks, dancing and parades across the city of Nice.

Carnival in Netherland / Nederland

In the Netherlands, the Carnivals is also called “Vastenavond” or “Vastelaovend”, mostly celebrated in Catholic regions likethe southern provinces North Brabant and Limburg. Carnival in the Netherlands is officially celebrated from Sunday to Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

Carnaval in Nederland

Typical Dutch Carnivals include a parade, a “prince” plus cortege, a farmer’s wedding (boerenbruiloft), and eating herring (haring happen) on Ash Wednesday. However, there are also some variants to the Carnival like Rijnlandsche Carnival in the province of Limburg with a street carnival featuring samba bands and elaborate costumes resembling South American and Venetian influences.

Carnaval in Spain
Spain has famous carnivals in many areas. Some of the most famous carnivals are in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Las Palmas De Gran Canaria, Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltru, Tarragona, Solsona, Cadiz, Badajoz, Bielsa (an ancestral carnival celebration), Plan, San Juan de Plan, Laza, Verin, Viana and Xinzo de Limia. Every February, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital of the largest of the Canary Islands, hosts the Carnival, attracting around a million spectators. The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is considered the second most popular and internationally known carnival after Rio Carnival.

Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain

Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife starts on the Friday before Ash Wednesday with a spectacular opening parade, which continues to the night, with thousands of people in fancy costumes dance until next morning. The street party and dance continues every day and night until Fat Tuesday. On that day, people of Santa Cruz de Tenerife celebrate the “entierro de la sardina” (burial of the sardine) and with it the Carnival is officially over.

Carnaval in Portugal
Carnaval is celebrated throughout Portugal, most famously in Ovar, Madeira, Loule, Nazare, and Torres Vedras, with each region puts its own unique take on the festival. The carnivals in Podence and Lazarim incorporate pagan traditions of the Roman Saturnalias, while the Torres Vedras celebration is probably the most representative Portuguese carnival where the locals are the stars.

Carnaval in Portugal

One of the most famous Carnaval events in Portugal is in the town Ovar near Porto. It is well known for its creative designs, which they display in the Carnaval Parade. Participants and their families work year-round to prepare their elaborate and humorous costumes, masks, decorations and floats. Its Carnaval parade features troupes with themed costumes and music, ranging from the traditional to modern pop culture.

Carnival in Philippines
The Ati-atihan Festival is also called as “The Filipino Mardi Gras”. The Ati-Atihan Festival is a feast held annually in January (on the second Sunday after Epiphany), and is held on Philippines island and town of Kalibo, Aklan. The festival celebrates the Santo Nino and is extremely colorful and spirited.

Ati-atihan Mardi Gras in Philippines

The festival consists of tribal dance, music, accompanied by indigenous costumes and weapons, and parade along the street. Christians, and non-Christians observe this day with religious processions.

Carnaval in Panama

Carnival celebration in Panama, called El Carnaval de Panama, is said to be second largest Canaval celebration in the world after Brazil. Fabulous shows with expensive costumes and accessories are put up for the competitions. Streets were closed for the celebration; waters are thrown to everyone who walk nearby. Also, popular artists perform in the most grandiose stage around. Street parties are continued up to night.

Argentina Carnaval 2014
The most unique Carnaval in Argentina is the Murga Carnival, though some other Brazilian styled carnavils held in the Argentine Mesopotamia and the North-East are also popular.

Carnival in Gualeguaychu, the east of Entre Rios province, is the largest and most important carnival in Argentina. Gualeguaychu Carnival houses musical performances similar to Brazil or Uruguay Carnival. Performers and clubs choose their own themes and join the competition. Each club brings the theme true to life, and having it presented to the eager audience.

As carnival coincides with summer, in many parts of Argentina the carnival also has turned into water games, with children playing with water and people throwing water balloons.

2014 Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago
Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago
Celebrated before Ash Wednesday, Trinidad and Tobago’s The Carnival in the Caribbean 2013 is one of the most awaited event in the islands, with plenty of cultural events leading up to the massive street parade on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. Carnival is such important event in Trinidad and Tobago that some said if they are not celebrating it, then the islanders are preparing for it, while reminiscing about the previous year’s festival. Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago is also known to be the best Carnivals in the world along with Brazil’s Carnival.

Happy Carnaval 2014 !